exploring my ptsd.

28Mar16

Last year, I had a traumatic medical experience. It is only now that I am realizing how the trauma is affecting me mentally — affecting my quality of life. I hadn’t realized until recently that I had literally developed post-traumatic stress disorder as a result.

I may have written about it here — I can’t recall. Last July (it was a week before my trip to the Balkans, in fact) I had a bad migraine that would not resolve itself at home or at Urgent Care. They sent me to the ER.

I’m used to IVs and medications (10 surgeries over my lifetime, after all) but what happened at that visit changed my life forever… I was given Reglan, which is a stomach motility drug that is used off-label for pain (or maybe more officially? I don’t touch the stuff anymore). I could’ve sworn that I’d had it during my hospital visits for my abdominal surgeries with no ill effects.

Immediately after IV push, I felt a chilling sensation all around my neck and throat… and I had no airway for what felt like 15 seconds. (It was probably shorter than that, but trauma changes the passage of time.) My throat relaxed (so, it was a spasm and not an immediate allergic reaction) and I could breathe again, but my heart immediately started racing once the nurses left the room. They didn’t seem to worry, given that my O2 sat was OK — but “just take deep breaths” was far from comforting advice at the time. Somehow, I was able to calm down.

Then, I lay there on the hospital bed and underwent uncontrollable spasms everywhere. My husband got the nurse, and I could hardly talk to her, since my mouth and jaw were spasming. “Oh, they’ll eventually go away in a while…” as my body writhed uncontrollably. I finally convinced them to give me some xanax. (I have not been back to this hospital since. Their customer service was lacking, to say the least.)

And then, the nurses explain that it was a nervous system reaction that about 5% of the population has to the medication (yep, not allergic), that it often doesn’t happen on first exposure, and that when I get this drug again, I know what to expect.

!!!!

Seriously?!?!?!? Who in their right minds after going through THAT would even consider that drug again? No, I didn’t die, but I sure as hell thought I was going to. And – I have an unpredictable nervous system disorder…

**

Anyway…

Moving forward, moving on from there (the worst thing is that my headache didn’t even entirely resolve!): toward the end of last year, I had a stomach flareup and needed IV fluids. No big deal, right? Just saline. But… when they started the saline drip — cold saline — I felt that cold sensation up my neck, as it filled my carotid artery. It wasn’t the same as that dreadful day, but similar enough that I had my eye on the tech the whole time. “It’s just saline…” they kept saying. And I freaked out. Not enough to pull the IV, but I was tense the entire time I was getting fluids.

At that point, I thought I might have a problem. But I didn’t address it.

Earlier this year, I had neurologists try to prescribe me new preventives for my migraines. Before I even filled the prescription, I spent hours on The Google doing my research about interactions, potential side effects, wondering if this thing would kill me.

And the only one I filled was the Cymbalta, last week, after admitting my anxiety/PTSD to my doctor. (I figured it was time for me to take baby steps.)

The good news is that when needles take fluids out of me (e.g. blood draw), I’m totally fine. It’s the fluid going into me — a foreign feeling, systemically — that scares the bejeezus out of me. And considering all of the neuro meds I pump into myself, as well as having experienced a bad reaction, I understandably wig out.

I am in the process of making an appointment with a counselor about all of this. It’s hard for science-brain to wrap around counseling, because even though it’s nice for someone to say “there there, I understand, I support you” — that doesn’t help me when push comes to shove. It will be interesting to see what steps I physically have to take to overcome this.

And, with the passage of more time, the more the memory fades. The first few months, I could remember every split second of the reaction… and less so, now.

Thanks for “listening”. 🙂

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One Response to “exploring my ptsd.”

  1. 1 Steve Yool

    Dear Brooke, I am sorry for your PTSD. I understand; after the horrific car accident in 1976 I could not go near the SF Bay Area. My PTSD has waned, but I still get occasional flashbacks, amplified by my MVP symptoms. I’ve found talk therapy useful but, also, take a little L-theanine sometimes (careful not to take too much, since as you likely know it lowers blood pressure in addition to reducing anxiety). I find that the 4-7-8 breathing helps me. Take care. ❤


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